Killian Hayes Scouting Report: Draft’s Most Elite Point Guard

Overall Impressions

French basketball phenom Killian Hayes is the quintessential modern-day NBA point guard. He’s arguably the most polished passer in the entire draft class with an elite shooting stroke. Also, he’s an underrated athlete for his frame, showing an ability to start and stop on a dime and play through contact. Moreover, Hayes has some of the best footwork in the class after mirroring his game on James Harden. Yet, Hayes shows so much potential. He’s shown steady improvement in the last few years but still has room to improve his shot, decision-making, ball-handling skills, and defensive IQ. If he continues to improve, he will become a household name.

Statistics

PTSREBASTSTLBLKFG%3PT%FT%TO
12.82.36.81.5.2.455.390.9093.3

In 10 games with the Ratiopharm ULM of the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL), Hayes absolutely shined. Finishing with 12.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game, Hayes demonstrated he’s capable of carrying an offense with his shooting and playmaking. He was a magician on the floor, making every difficult pass you ask an NBA’s point guard to make. Moreover, his jump shot looked nearly perfect, eerily similar to the NBA’s premier shooters. Lastly, he showed fluid body control when driving to the basket often shifting speed and directions with relative ease.

While not a defensive menace, Hayes did generate 1.5 steals per game which tells me that he has good anticipation skills and can effectively read passing lanes. His height 6’5’’ and 6’9’’ wingspan pose a real threat for opposing guards and I could see him growing into a top-five steals player in the NBA. His shooting splits were even more impressive. He shot a spectacular .91 percent from the free-throw line, a respectable .455 percent from the floor, and an impressive .390 percent from the three-point line. This kid has a high floor and the ceiling of an all-star point guard at the next level. I’m very excited about Hayes’ future in the NBA.

Pros

As mentioned above, I was thoroughly impressed with Hayes’s shooting ability. With a remarkable ninety percent free throw percentage, Hayes is a natural shooter. In addition, Hayes shot 39 percent from three. He’s shown an ability to be an elite perimeter shooter in Eurocup which will translate to the NBA. Furthermore, his mechanics are nearly perfect. He keeps his elbows to his side, releases the ball at its highest point, and finishes with fluidity. With his passing and shooting ability, Hayes will keep coaches up at night.

Speaking of passing ability, Hayes’ vision is extraordinary and accurate. He knows where his guys should be before they get there. His passes are pinpoint accurate, catching guys right in stride. I love the touch he puts on his passes, it just seems so smooth when watching his tape. Overall, he’s a creative playmaker that will constantly destroy defenders that fall asleep and force the opposing offense to stay on their toes.

Combined with his shooting and passing is his underrated athleticism. He won’t pop off the screen with elite speed or jaw-dropping dunks but has the balance and body control to shift past defenders in tight windows. In addition, Hayes can change speeds on a dime which is an ode to his acceleration. This is most evident in transition opportunities where he’ll leave guys behind when he shifts his game speed.

Also, Hayes seems to have great work ethic. He improved from shooting 19 percent from three in 2018 to 39 percent in 2019. His free throw percentage also jumped drastically from 82 to 91 percent in 2019. He’s become even better at jumping passing lanes with an increase in steals from 1.0 to 1.5 per game in 2019. He continues to gain confidence as he improves his gameplay.

https://twitter.com/FIBA/status/1015328426352230402

Cons

Despite all the praise, Hayes has a few things to work on. First, he’s over-reliant on his left hand, choosing to attack left even though the right offered a free lane to the basket. When he tries to attack from the right, it often results in turnovers because his right-handed handle isn’t as polished. If he can put the time in the gym to become more comfortable with both hands, his offensive game will expand and his turnovers decrease.

Speaking of turnovers, Hayes averaged 3.3 per game. Working on his ball-handling skills will make a difference, but he has to correct his decision-making skills. Often, Hayes will try to make the extra pass when it’s not there. In many of these scenarios, Hayes should have simply taken the wide-open jump shot or drive to the lane. He showed improvement in his last few games but still has a ways to go. As mentioned before, his turnover rate goes hand in hand with confidence in his dibble.

Defense is also a problem with Hayes although I believe he can become a capable defender in the coming years. He’s great at anticipating passing lanes but struggles with footwork and body control. Often, an offensive crossover is enough to get past Hayes for good – Hayes lacks the quick first step to get back in position. He’s not strong enough to effectively fight through screens and doesn’t have the athleticism to catch up to dribblers. The proper coaching could help build his defensive IQ and effectively anticipate screens, but I don’t see Hayes becoming an elite all-defensive team defender.

Best Team Fit

New York Knicks

New York KnicksI’m not too high on sending any draft pick to New York because of their atrocious front office. However, I think Killian Hayes could be the right prospect to catapult this organization into a new direction. While New York Knicks fans may hate the front office for drafting another French point guard – Frank Ntilinka from years prior – Hayes is a much better prospect with the finesse and playmaking ability fans will quickly love. He fits great alongside RJ Barrett with his range and playmaking abilities, but both need another perimeter shooter to maximize their potential together. Hayes could also work well with Randle’s pick and roll capabilities. I really see Hayes thriving with the Knicks and injecting some much-needed spark into their point guard rotation. With Hayes, the Knicks could solidify their backcourt for the future.

Detroit Pistons

Detroit PistonsI also like Hayes to the Pistons. Dwayne Casey did a masterful job developing players during his time with the Raptors. I don’t see any differences with Hayes. Also, Hayes fits seamlessly with the Pistons starting 5. At point guard, Hayes has a quality pick and roll option in Blake Griffin, who in his own right is a playmaker that could create some off-ball opportunities for Hayes. Hayes can also grow with emerging sharpshooter Luke Kennard and learn from veteran point guard Derrick Rose. Hayes represents a quality pick the Pistons need to catapult their rebuild.

Player Comparison

Hayes is eerily similar to D’Angelo Russell coming into the draft. Both are similar heights, 6’5’’, and could take over an offense possession with their shooting and ability to get to the basket. Moreover, Russell also came into his draft as a polished passer with elite court vision. I see Hayes easily mimicking Russell’s production in the NBA. Lastly, both are underrated athletes; Russell was knocked as too unathletic for his position to be taken 2nd overall. Hayes is also getting criticized in this area. However, I see these guys as crafty Manu-esqe players, guys that have good body control and shifty balance to navigate tight windows. So far, Russell has shined despite not having the physical gifts. I think Hayes’ body control will prevent his lack of elite physical traits from destroying his offensive production.

What makes me even more optimistic about Hayes is his maturity and approach to the game. Scouts questioned Russell’s work ethic and commitment to basketball during the draft process and even throughout his first couple of seasons with the Lakers. However, Hayes has none of these concerns. With this in mind, I could see Hayes playing at even a better level than D’Angelo Russell. Hayes is truly a gifted prospect.

Draft Range

I think Hayes is a top 5 prospect in this draft. He has a high floor because you can rely on his playmaking ability at the next level. Also, he shows the ability to provide modern offenses some form of spacing which will only improve over time. While his defense and right-handed dribbling could use improvement, I can confidently say that Hayes will make an impact on an NBA roster.

  
Miles Jasper is an incoming law student studying employment and labor law. Miles’ passions lie within the salary cap, collective bargaining, and labor relations between leagues and their players. He also likes to analyze college prospects and participate in fantasy sports. In his free time, Miles is an avid runner who also enjoys poker, cooking, and watching movies.

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